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Money ACCC takes power company to court for dodgy discount

02:31  10 july  2018
02:31  10 july  2018 Source:   theage.com.au

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Power retailer Click Energy tried to confuse consumers into accepting "discounts" that would charge electricity at higher rates than its regular prices, the consumer watchdog has claimed in a case it says tackles the worst instances of energy bill deception it has seen.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Monday announced that it had begun proceedings against Click Energy’s parent company Amaysim, claiming it was directly in breach of consumer law and made false or misleading marketing claims about its electricity discounts.

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The ACCC is committed in bringing court actions against companies that breach the Competition and Consumer Act. Companies that do not comply with the restrictive trade practices provisions of CCA may be fined by the Federal Court . There are three ways the maximum fine can be calculated.

Click claimed, between October 2017 and March 2018, that under its offer consumers in Victoria and Queensland could get discounts of between 7 and 29 per cent off their bill if they paid on time.

The ACCC said these figures were designed to bamboozle customers and were misleading as the discounts applied to Click’s market rate, which was higher than basic offers on the market.

“The advertised savings were based on the amount a consumer could save with Click Energy by paying on time, and not on any estimate of savings a consumer switching from another retailer would obtain,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

“We believe that Click Energy’s conduct is among the worst practices we see in retail electricity marketing.

"We allege that consumers were misled about discounts and savings, with some consumers not getting any discount or savings at all.”

Click also allegedly claimed customers could save a certain amount if they switched electricity retailers, which the ACCC said was wrong.

“We allege is false or misleading as they had no proper basis for these representations,” the ACCC said.

“The retail electricity market is too complex and opaque. Customers need to trust that discounts and savings advertised by retailers are accurate so they can make informed choices about which products are best for them.”

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An energy expert has offered consumers some tips and tricks to slash their power bills in the wake of a damning report on the big energy companies from the consumer watchdog. The major investigation by the ACCC has painted a grim picture of Australia's energy market, and revealed it is often the customers that lose out.One of the major tricks often used by the big providers is offering a higher discount - luring people to opt for 30 percent off, rather than 15 percent. © Provided by Nine Digital Pty Ltd The ACCC's report into the energy industry was damning towards the companies.

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